January 22, 2017

Today’s second reading is 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17: I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of… Read more

January 20, 2017

  I’m tired of political commentary. I suspect I engaged in too much of it when I didn’t have anything else to say. I probably should have shut up instead. This will be my attempt at objectivity. Townhall reports the Trump Inauguration has set a religious record: President-elect Donald Trump’s will have more prayers read during his inauguration ceremonies than any president in American history. Trump, who began Inauguration Day at St. John’s Church for a service, will have six religious… Read more

January 19, 2017

Is it possible to be quiet and silent on the flight to Egypt? I ask because I notice so many people are having trouble with these things merely on the way to the Inauguration. I’d like to get out the shallows and be silent (i.e. shut up), but the garbage keeps piling up and, frankly, I’m used to it: I stopped for a few seconds by the newspaper stand wondering whether to buy the two evening papers here, the two biggest publications. Reading… Read more

January 18, 2017

It is better to remain silent and to be than to talk and not be. Teaching is good if the teacher also acts. Now there was one teacher who ‘spoke, and it was made,’ and even what he did in silence is worthy of the Father. He who has the word of Jesus can truly listen also to his silence, in order to be perfect, that he may act through his speech and be known by his silence. –Ignatius of… Read more

January 17, 2017

The American Dream is making a comeback. Trump channeled it with the Make America Great Again slogan. Then Clinton followed his lead by projecting the greatness we’ll lose if we elect Trump. Then there was the Obama nostalgia when everyone had the epiphany that all those years after 2008 were a utopia compared to what’s coming around the bend. Then yesterday most of us bumped up against MLK’s dream speech, which is a more biblically weighty argument about a botched… Read more

January 11, 2017

Caillebot’s painting above is significant to me because in and through its simplicity the painting evokes a world of weight, depth, nobility, and solidity that’s been disappearing in the First World since World War II. It’s as if the West, appalled by the horrors of the War, opted for the world of phantasmagorias and abstractions that we now inhabit. The following passage from Knausgaard’s stunning memoir-novel (movel?) My Struggle, Book 1 adumbrates a little of the world that’s been lost and how it can be seen in the… Read more

December 11, 2016

Theology buffs have more of a Christmas gift dilemma than science and philosophy readers. The latter do not subscribe as much to the decline narratives as much as the former. For way too many Catholic theology readers Vatican II was a decline in theological quality and now the age of Francis is a decline from the decline. Rubbish. Admittedly, refuting this theory would take the luxury of a longer series in about contemporary theology for which I probably don’t have time for (but it would start with… Read more

December 10, 2016

The head-in-the-sand stance of many Catholics toward the modern world leaves them unprepared to engage their contemporaries on issues as important as human rights. The modern world, like the Bible, did not drop out of the sky into our laps. It has its history. That history is Christian. Its successes are theological, as are its failures. The history of human rights, and today (December 10th, 2016) is World Human Rights Day, is one such example of bumbling historical amnesia. Catholics might be appalled by the… Read more

December 5, 2016

“Religion is either everything, or it is nothing.” –Pawel Rojek, Avant-garde Conservatism “Christianity has functioned for the normative self-understanding of modernity as more than a mere precursor or a catalyst. Egalitarian universalism, from which sprang the ideas of freedom and social solidarity, of an autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, of the individual morality of conscience, human rights, and democracy, is the direct heir to the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged,… Read more

October 31, 2016

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” –William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun Reformation Day is an appropriate occasion to trot out a quote from America’s greatest (Protestant, what else?) novelist from his otherwise mediocre novel about a “nun.” Something like this sentiment is behind one of the most discussed history and theology books of recent years, Brad Gregory’s The Unintended Reformation . Its subtitle telegraphs its rather unusually grandiose ambitions for an age that is weary of metanarratives: How… Read more

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